Get some tips: If you are having a tough time finding information related to your topic, browse through and watch our collection of tutorials.
Identify keywords: Before searching the Library Catalog or other databases, choosing the right keywords is essential. Take a few minutes to write down all the words or phrases that describe your topic. Use these words in keyword searches. For more help with search strategies, follow the links immediately below.
Follow the bibliographic trail: One proven method for gathering reliable information efficiently is to follow the citations or references from one source to another. Just as internet links take you to other pages or sources recommended by a site's webmaster, the author of a book or article provides a series of notes and/or references in a bibliography designed to lead you to other sources on the topic.
Boolean operators allow you create searches that combine keywords and search terms for more relevant search results.
Here are some general searching tips
Verify the author’s credentials
Most peer-reviewed studies you will come across will be written by college professors or graduate students who have expertise in the field about which they are writing. Google them to ensure they are affiliated with an academic or research institute.
Read and evaluate citations and works cited
If you notice that authors cite many of the same sources, there is a reason for this. Frequently and commonly cited sources are often call seminal works. Seminal works are ones in which a major finding is discussed, proven, or challenged. Authors cite seminal works to demonstrate that they are informed and credible scholars engaged with the major issues in their field. In order to be an informed and credible researcher yourself, you should do the same. Use Google Scholar or the library’s main search function to locate commonly cited sources, and read and include seminal works in your research.
Evaluate the argument and evidence
This is probably the most difficult thing to do when you are learning about a new topic. You should have faith in your own abilities to judge a source’s credibility, though. Below are some tips:
Use The Craft of Research to help conceptualize and develop your research project.
Chapter 3: From Topics to Questions guides you through the process of asking questions to help refine your topic.
Chapter 4: From Questions to a Problem helps you shape your questions into a focused hypothesis.
Chapter 5: From Problems to Sources helps you find relevant and authoritative information.